Israeli rabbi discourages renting apartments to lesbians

Ben Sales

(JTA) — Rabbi Yaakov Ariel of the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan wrote on a website that Jewish law prohibits renting apartments to lesbian couples.

Ariel responded to a Jewish legal question this week from a Ramat Gan resident on a website, according to Ynet News, asking whether the resident was allowed to rent his apartment to a lesbian couple. Ariel responded that he could rent to one member of the couple, not both, and should rent to someone else if possible.

In response to Ariel’s statement, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni called for an amendment to a law that would criminalize housing discrimination with a six-month prison term.

“The housing issue is not included in the Prohibition of Discrimination Law,” said Livni, according to Ynet News. “But a reality where rabbis urge people not to lease apartments to non-Jewish residents or members of the gay community requires us to respond and make it clear that any type of discrimination, including in housing, is a criminal offense and a civil injustice.”

In a separate incident, according to Haaretz, the Jerusalem District Court recently ruled that Jerusalem Rabbi Isser Klonsky must apologize and pay $17,000 in damages to a yoga instructor he outed as a lesbian. Klonsky discouraged congregants from taking her classes, which, the court ruled, damaged her livelihood.

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